Living Arrows 3/52

I feel like this week has revolved around Little M’s sleep. She’s teething, so that’s bound to upset things, but there hasn’t been the usual screaming/crying that you’d expect from a teething baby. She’s just got herself into a ridiculous cycle of being completely cream crackered by 5pm when we’re sitting down to dinner, then falling asleep really quickly after her bath so she’s down in her Snüzpod before seven thirty.

Wondering what I’m complaining about? Well she’s invariably wide awake within an hour and doesn’t go back to sleep until between 11pm and midnight. She then sleeps through until 9, 10 or even 11am, so I can’t complain too much, but that then messes up the whole day as she naps once or maybe twice for around 30 minutes before starting the whole cycle again.

As a result, I’ve been trying to wake her earlier in the morning so she can actually have breakfast instead of sleeping through it, then try to orchestrate ways to make her sleep. One thing that seems to be quite successful is taking her for a walk. Unfortunately, she usually spends the first 45 minutes of the walk wide awake, before falling asleep just around the corner from home.

So today’s Living Arrows photograph had to be of Little M fast asleep in her pram, shrouded by the SnoozeShade. It feels a bit mean covering her pushchair so she can’t see out, but honestly it’s been a godsend in terms of getting her to have a nap during the day!

Plus, she loves being inside it. She giggles away when it first goes on, especially as I’m a bit obsessive about peering in the zipped opening to see if she’s okay. Little M obviously considers it to be a highly elaborate game of peekaboo! Once we get going though, she’s usually asleep within 10 to 15 minutes. So I walk for the remainder of an hour before bringing her home.

I read somewhere that baby naps are only effective if they last at least 40 minutes. Don’t ask me where I read it; I can’t remember. It was back in the majorly sleep-deprived days when we were desperately googling any articles on ‘how to make your newborn sleep’ at 3am. Some random ‘sleep expert’ probably made it up, but it’s stuck with me so naturally I obsess about the length of Little M’s naps, much like I obsess about everything else! You can imagine how disappointed I am when she wakes up after 35. I ended up driving around south Norfolk for nearly an hour after Tiny Talk last week because she fell asleep just as I pulled into our road.

Anyway, I’m not sure I’m supposed to write a whole great long post about my nap obsessions for Living Arrows, but there it is! Doesn’t Little M look cute all bundled up in there?

In case you’re wondering, my nap experimentation has had little to no impact on the time Little M is falling asleep at night. Feel free to offer any advice, or even better, send cake.

Living Arrows

The first drop of formula…

I’ve written about the fact that I exclusively express quite a few times. I won’t write again about why I started, but it’s here if you want to read it. Little M is now seven and a half months old. She’s well into weaning, and as a result we’re spending a lot more of our day at the kitchen table around trying to go out and generally have lives!

This has meant that I’ve felt more under pressure when trying to express, particularly when hubby is at work. I’ve been finding it harder to meet Little M’s needs and fit in expressing. As a result, I’ve been starting to wonder whether the benefits of breast milk are continuing to outweigh the disadvantages of expressing. And I’m not sure they are.

I want to be able to give Little M my time, when she needs it. At the moment I’m having to squeeze in expressing when really I should be interacting with her. I know there are still benefits of breast milk at this age, but I’ve given her the best start that I possibly could, and now it’s time to move on.

So on Saturday night we fed Little M her first bottle of formula. I cried. I cried with a mixture of regret, guilt and fear. Regret that our breastfeeding journey hadn’t been what I had wanted it to be. Guilt that I was only giving her formula to make my life easier, rather than making hers better. Fear that the ‘poison’ that is formula would damage her little digestive system in some way.

Combination feeding, stopping expressing

Because that’s what I’d been brainwashed into thinking. That formula is some kind of poison that I shouldn’t feed my child. On Sunday morning I had a little Google of combination feeding. I really wish I hadn’t. As I read, it seemed to me that all of these web pages were written in a ‘breast is best’ tone. They made me worry all over again that I’d be damaging Little M’s gut lining.

I grew cross that all this information is written as though every woman reading it is choosing not to easily breast feed their child and instead combination feed, on a whim, just because they feel like it. I’m not sure if anyone who has written this pages has actually spoken to anyone who combination feeds, but personally I know several women, including myself, who would give their right arm to be able to breastfeed easily.

So yes, I am cross. Cross that these websites and health visitors and the like are told that they have to promote breastfeeding in such a way that it makes women like me, who for whatever reason can’t do it, feel utterly terrible about themselves.

I made a decision right then and there. I refuse. I refuse to feed bad or sad or guilty about moving to formula feeding. And I’m not going to read anything else on the subject. Except of course, for the instructions for how to make up formula safely. And then I’m going to enjoy my day with Little M.

Tommee Tippee Weaning Products Review and Giveaway

This whole weaning journey is a bumpy, winding road, isn’t it?! I feel like I’m up and down like a yoyo in my Instagram posts, as one day I seem to be sharing how well she’s chewing, then the next I’m posting about gagging-related vom incidents (No photos of the actual vom, don’t panic)!

I’m still working on getting Little M to feed herself, so when Tommee Tippe sent me a cracking selection of their weaning  training products, we got stuck in to trying them out. The first thing I noticed about all of the Tommee Tippee products, was that they can go through the dishwasher. Fab! Frankly we’ve had enough of washing up with all the sterilising…

tommee tippee weaning

Another thing that struck me was about the spoons. At first I thought they were really heavy but then I realised that they’re actually ergonomically designed, and weighted for ease of use. Obviously this didn’t stop Little M shoving the handle in her mouth, but I’m sure it will help her as she progresses with self-feeding.

The other good thing about Tommee Tippee feeding spoons is that there are five in a pack, so when one inevitably ends up on the floor, you can just reach for another! The only additional feature I’d like to see in these spoons is heat sensing. I’m still a bit too nervous and like the reassurance of seeing that the spoon hasn’t changed colour! Having said that, Tommee Tippee do make heat sensing colour-changing spoons too, if you need them.

All of the Tommee Tippee weaning products come in really lovely, vibrant colours. So you’re unlikely to lose them if you’re out and about. Speaking which, the bowls with lids are a brilliant idea, and there’s even a special clip to hold a spoon in place. This is the sort of reminder I need as we’ve been out before and I’ve neglected to remember a spoon. Whoops!

tommee tippee 360 cup

I think my favourite of all the products has to be the 360º sippy cup. It’s so clever! You can tip it upside down and it won’t spill, but Little M doesn’t need to suck, either, as water is released when her lips touch the disk in the centre of the lid. Impressive, right?! I wish I had the sort of intelligence that produced ideas like that! I can really see how Little M can progress from using that to a ‘proper’ cup. Thanks go to Tommee Tippee for making our weaning journey a little easier!

If you’d like to win a selection of Tommee Tippee weaning goodies, then you’re in luck, as I’m running a giveaway! Simply enter via the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

(Sorry, boring yet essential!):

There is one prize of a set of Tommee Tippee weaning products. No cash alternative.
This competition is open to residents of the UK only.
Competition ends 26th February 2017.
A winner will be chosen at random using the widget.
The winner will be notified via email within 7 days of the closing date, and must respond within 28 days to claim their prize and arrange delivery.
The winner’s details will be passed to a Tommee Tippee representative who will arrange delivery of the prize.

tommee tippee weaning review

Disclosure: I was sent a variety of Tommee Tippee weaning products in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Meet the Parents – Advice for new mummies and daddies from Two Hearts One Roof

Welcome back to my weekly guest series Meet the Parents. This week we hear advice from Chantele from Two Hearts One Roof.

Tell me a bit about you, your blog and your family. 

I’m Chantele, married to Jon for 6 years and first time parents to Elian now seven months old. We live in South Wales, with our other baby, Opie the Cocker Spaniel, now 2 years old and we run a photography company and our blog.

What one essential item would you insist on putting in your hospital bag (for you)?

I wasn’t intending on going to hospital at all as I had planned a home birth. Sadly that didn’t go to plan and I ended up with an emergency c-section. The one thing I wish I had remembered to take with me was a book or magazine in all honesty. Hospital wards can be dull places if you have to stay in overnight. I was on my own with Elian a fair bit and he obviously slept for quite a few hours, so I wish I had had a book or magazine to read. I spent a fair amount of time playing on my phone counting down to visiting hours!

Was there anything unexpected that happened during labour, that you think first-time mums should be prepared for?

Things rarely go to plan! Almost all of the last stage of my labour was unexpected. I home laboured for almost 24 hours with just gas and air and my birth pool, which was how I wanted it. Unfortunately Elian had turned back to back the week before I went into labour, so I ended up being rushed in as the angle of his head had caused my cervix to swell meaning he could no longer pass through naturally and I ended up with a c-section, but Jon let medical staff know I wanted as little pain medication as possible.

I didn’t want Pethidine or an epidural, so up until the hospital I only had the gas and air and even in the hospital I only accepted a self administered pain killer, until they decided I needed a c-section. I don’t really think you can prepare for the unexpected but just be prepared that it might not go the way you would like it to. But make sure your partner knows you wishes regarding medication and things like cord cutting so they can let the hospital or medical professionals know your wishes even when your too focused on contractions.

Gosh that all sounds rather traumatic! Well done you for keeping your cool and well done Jon for fighting your corner!

What would be your one essential product for a newborn that no new parent should live without?

Muslins! Lots and lots of muslins! That and baby wipes. Great for dribble, spit up and sick, which all babies do a lot!

What’s the best piece of advice you were given before your first child was born?

I think the advice to ignore all the advice to be honest! Do what you think is best for your baby and you, everyone will have an opinion but everyone’s baby is different.

What’s the worst piece of advice you were given?

To stick to a routine early on with a newborn, like feeding exactly on time, it just doesn’t work! I’m sorry but babies don’t have clocks and they often will be hungry before or after they are meant to be, let them feed on demand, especially if breast feeding.

I agree. We didn’t have a routine as such but the midwife did make us feed Little M every three hours. This contributed to my panic over breastfeeding as she just didn’t want to est that frequently!

What would be your top tip for a first time parent-to-be?

Enjoy every moment! Even the crying ones, and the ones where you feel totally exhausted and falling asleep on your feet, the first 8 weeks flew by way way too fast!

What’s the hardest thing about being a new parent?

Having something require your attention 24/7, and being responsible for your babies every need all the time. I can cope with the lack of sleep fairly well, but having to be his everything, on demand, at all times can be tiring and difficult.

Yep, it all gets a bit overwhelming sometimes, doesn’t it?

What’s the best thing about being a new parent?

I don’t think there is just one thing but the firsts, all the firsts! hehe! The first smile, the first babbling, even the first korma poo nappy! You’ll love every little change, every time they do something new. And being so in love with something so tiny that has been in the world such a little time, and knowing they are totally in love with you too, you’re their world as much as they are yours.

Thank you Chantele. You can find Chantele over on her blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

BabyStyle Hybrid Edge Stroller Review

Last month we were lucky enough to attend the launch of the new BabyStyle Hybrid Edge stroller. We were so excited to try it out properly and really put it through its paces. You can only imagine how excited I was when it turned out just a few days before Christmas! So we’ve had a chance to get it out of the box, put it together and take it out and about for a few good walks to put it through its paces.

Babystyle hyrbid, babystyle hybrid grey, stonewash hybrid stroller, hybrid pushchair

Hybrid Edge Assembly

The unboxing and assembly process was really easy, as you can see in this little video I made:

Hybrid Edge Comfort & Handling

First we took the stroller for a walk around a lake, which we’re lucky enough to have walking distance from our house. It was the ideal place to really put the Hybrid Edge stroller through its paces, as the ground is very uneven in places. There’s lots of mud and roots but also boardwalk in places so it has a good variety of terrains!

Hybrid stroller, Hybrid edge, babystyle, hybrid pushchair, babystyle pushchair, babystyle pram

While walking on the pavements on the way to the lake, the hybrid stroller made a really good impression. It’s very light and smooth to push, and Little M seemed comfortable and cosy inside the winter footmuff. One feature I really like is the adjustable handle. It extends really high and, while I’m not especially tall (I’m 5′ 5″) I like to have a high handle as I think it helps my posture and stops me feeling like I’m stooping over.

We walked the entire circumference of the lake, which takes a good 45 minutes at least. Most of the way, the Hybrid Edge stroller was absolutely fine (the great suspension was working really hard!) but occasionally, where the ground was super uneven (think big tree roots and a missing board in the boardwalk) it felt like the front wheels got stuck and a bit of manoeuvring was required. Other than that, it handled pretty well, and was great over standard tracks through the woods.

babystyle hybrid stroller

Hybrid Edge Stroller Verdict

Having tried out the Hybrid stroller for the past few weeks, these are my overall impressions:

Pros

  • Height adjustable handle
  • Surprisingly capable basket
  • Enormous extendable hood with built-in sun canopy
  • Good suspension
  • Smooth and light to push
  • Compact when folded
  • Gorgeous range of colour options
  • Stylish detailing
  • Easily adaptable into a City or Tandem model (at an additional cost)

Cons

  • Struggles a little over very rough terrain
  • Straps can twist easily

While the Hybrid Edge stroller may not be quite the ticket if you want a hardcore off-roader, it manages well over uneven ground and pushes like a dream on paved surfaces (even if they’re not perfect). Since the lake, we’ve taken it on walks around our local area and love features like the expanding hood and built-in sun visor. The basket, while appearing small, is actually surprisingly capacious (I managed to fit a whole pile of library books and some shopping in it, with room to spare) and the height-adjustable handle is really easy to operate (I’ve done it one-handed on many occasions).

sun canopy hybrid stroller, sun visor on pushchair, hybrid stroller, babystyle hybrid stroller

Another thing I love about the hybrid stroller is how compact it is when folded. It fits in the boot of the car with oodles of room to spare. Other strollers I’ve had in there have had to go sideways, while this slots in vertically, only taking up half of the boot space. While we’ve got a Ford Kuga, I still think this would make a good option for those with smaller cars. One of the reasons we up-sized our car was due to lack of pushchair space! It’s a shame I didn’t discover the Hybrid stroller sooner…

Disclosure: We were given a Hybrid stroller in exchange for our honest review. All opinions are my own.

babystyle hybrid edge stroller review

Living Arrows 2/52

Right. Living Arrows day two! So I’ve quickly followed one Living Arrows post with another, probably a blogging faux pas of some kind, but I wanted to get back on track!

This week’s photograph is of Little M on her play mat. We love our Mamas and Papas Magic Stargaze play mat* – Little M has had it since she was seven weeks old and it’s been amazing to see how she’s utilised it in different ways as she’s grown. I’d highly recommend it! In fact, I often wonder why I haven’t written a review of it, as we love it so much! Something else to add to the to do list perhaps…

Anyway, I digress. Little M isn’t quite crawling yet, but she is at the stage where she’s spending less time actually on the play mat and more time rolling around the floor. It’s really interesting to watch her pivot on her tummy, then roll towards her target. She’s definitely a very determined individual!

My living arrows photo shows her chilling out on the living room floor. She loves her Frugi cat muslin so much – she’ll always make a beeline for it. To be honest we now consider it to be one of her toys rather than a muslin cloth!

Mamas and Papas magic stargaze play mat

Given her penchant for the pivot-and-roll I’m not sure whether she’ll be a crawler or go straight to walking. I suppose we ought to think about sorting out some stair gates, regardless! Especially as we live in a townhouse so our living room is upstairs. With two sets of stairs, some lucky stair gate company is set to make a small fortune out of us!

Living Arrows

*This is an affiliate link – I’ll get a little kickback if you follow it and make a purchase, but it costs you nothing. Thank you!

Living Arrows 1/52

I kicked myself earlier when I thought I’d missed the opportunity to join in with #LivingArrows this week. I tried joining in last year but didn’t like it that we were already half way through the year, so promised myself that I’d start in January, at number one. Fortunately, Donna’s linky over at What the Redhead Said is open all week, so it turns out I’m not too late after all. Phew.

The Living Arrows linky is all about sharing a moment of childhood from the previous week. I’m really looking forward to following how Little M grows and changes this year, and Living Arrows will be a nice way to help me to keep track. I’ve recorded it in my new planner for next week, too, so I don’t forget!

This week I’m sharing this photograph of Little M in her Snüzpod. She’s always so happy when she wakes up in the morning and really excited and smiley when we say hello and sing, “good morning, good morning, you slept the whole night through; good morning, good morning to you!” We do a lot of singing in this house!

I know we really ought to be moving her into her own room, especially now she’s seven and a half months old, but we’re just not ready yet. I love having her right there next to me.

Living Arrows

Bibetta Placemat Review and Giveaway

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I don’t have the first clue when it comes to weaning. I really am prepared to accept all the help that I can get! So I was delighted when Little M and I were invited to review the Bibetta placemat.

Bibetta Placemat

I’ve been trying to give Little M a mixture of purees and finger foods to get her chewing. So far only toast has really been successful in that respect, but the Bibetta placemat has totally saved my table! Plus I’m lazy, so it suits me that I can just pop fingers of toast straight onto it and leave Little M to get on with it. Once she’s finished, I can just pick up the mat and funnel the leftovers straight into the bin.

On the underside of the Bibetta placemat, there’s a non-slip backing to stop it from sliding around on the table. It does a good job in this respect but don’t expect it to stick to the table – although Little M has found rolling it up to make a good past-time for while she’s waiting for me to prepare her food.

Bibetta Placemat

The Bibetta placemat also features a pocket to catch any stray bits of food… I think the idea is that you can get away without using a bib but given the amount of food Little M manages to smear over herself, I’m not sure I’m going to be testing that theory any time soon! It does catch some bits that would otherwise end up on the floor though, so at least there’s a bit less clearing up to do! The placemat should be wiped gently to clean after each meal and can be machine washed and tumble dried occasionally to keep it looking fresh.

I have one Bibetta placemat to give away to one lucky reader. If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning, simply enter via the Rafflecopter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

(Sorry, boring yet essential!):

There is one prize of one Bibetta Placemat. No cash alternative.
This competition is open to residents of the UK only.
Competition ends 19th February 2017.
A winner will be chosen at random using the widget.
The winner will be notified via email within 7 days of the closing date, and must respond within 28 days to claim their prize and arrange delivery.
The winner’s details will be passed to a Bibetta representative who will arrange delivery of the prize.

Disclosure: I was provided with a Bibetta Placemat in exchange for an honest review. However, all opinions are my own.

Meet the Parents – Advice for new mummies and daddies from Kiddieholidays

Welcome back to my blog series, Meet the Parents, where we get advice for new parents from those who have already been through it. This week, we hear from Jo who blogs at Kiddieholidays.

Tell me a bit about you, your blog and your family.

My blog is called Kiddieholidays and is about holidays and days out for babies and toddlers. I set it up after the birth of my first son when I was struggling to find a holiday for us which was suitable for families with babies. Since then it has grown and now includes baby and toddler friendly days out.

I live in Yorkshire with my husband and 2 young boys. I would say that we are a fairly ‘normal’ family – both me and my husband work (me part time) and weekends are taken up with swimming lessons, kids birthday parties and days out. We are lucky to have so many family friendly days out in Yorkshire, so we spend a lot of time getting out and about and visiting them.


What one essential item would you insist on putting in your hospital bag (for you)?

A bar of chocolate! I love Galaxy chocolate so had a big bar waiting for me after the birth! Oh, and a clean pair of pyjamas. I bought a cheap nightie to wear during the birth, but it was nice to wear my own nice, clean pair of pyjamas afterwards.

Snuggly! I couldn’t wear pyjamas after my c-section so I relied on button-down nightshirts instead. 

Was there anything unexpected that happened during labour, that you think first-time mums should be prepared for?

I had spent a lot of time planning my birth, but I realised quite early on that things don’t exactly go to plan when babies are involved! My midwife asked me to write a birthing plan which I spent a long time working on. I decided I wanted to have a water birth and set my heart on this, however a few days before I was due, the birthing pool in my hospital got infected and was closed for a few weeks whilst it was deep cleaned.

This meant that I wouldn’t be able to have the water birth I wanted, which at the time, I was devastated about. Looking back now, I wish I hadn’t spent as long planning the birth and just gone with the flow a bit. After all babies themselves don’t follow plans when they are born, so the whole ‘go with the flow’ motto is one which I had to embrace quite quickly!

What would be your one essential product for a newborn that no new parent should live without?

If you are breast feeding, I would suggest getting yourself a really comfortable rocking chair with good sturdy arms on it! I spent hours sitting in my chair feeding my son – most of the time through the night when the rest of the world was asleep. My chair became ‘our’ place and was somewhere where I would spend hours just watching him as he fed.

What’s the best piece of advice you were given before your first child was born?

Babies don’t follow books or plans. I bought a book about a baby’s week by week development which was supposed to tell me what he should be doing each week. However, I realised pretty early on that babies don’t do what they are meant to do, and instead of getting stressed out that he wasn’t doing what the book said, I ditched the book. That felt very liberating, and I resolved to just enjoy the moment instead.

I thought I’d be reading books all the time, but in reality I’ve preferred just spending time with Little M and tried not to worry so much! 

What’s the worst piece of advice you were given?

Don’t do baby led weaning! This worked really well for us but someone told me I shouldn’t do it and I should puree all the food and spoon feed my son. Everyone is different, but it was the best option for us.

What would be your top tip for a first time parent-to-be?

Do things your way – trust your instincts, chill out and enjoy the moment. Don’t be too hard on yourself either – you will make mistakes (especially when you are tired) but that’s ok. Learn from your mistakes and don’t dwell on them.
Also, get out and about and join loads of baby groups. Don’t stay in!

What’s the hardest thing about being a new parent?

Apart from the lack of sleep, the guilt when you inevitably do something ‘wrong’.

Ah yes, such big guilt over such little things! 

What’s the best thing about being a new parent?

Everything! I love reliving my childhood again through times of year such as Christmas, Halloween and Bonfire Night. As adults, these things get a little mundane but with kids they become exciting again.

Also, I love going and exploring new places. We are members of the National Trust so are always discovering new places -if we didn’t have kids, I don’t think we would make such an effort to get out and about.

Thank you, Jo. You can find Jo over on her blog, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

When you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing…

I know, I think parenting in general feels like you don’t know what you’re doing, but this weaning business has really got me in a spin. I know I wrote about the minefield that is weaning before Christmas but I feel like my anxiety around the subject has grown over the holidays.

I find myself worrying constantly – is she eating enough? Should I be feeding her this? There was a bit of debate from my parents as to whether I should have fed Little M smoked mackerel, which didn’t help the questioning of myself either! It’s bad enough when I’m doing it to myself, without anyone else joining in!

FYI, I’ve  found this NHS page which is very clear about foods to avoid when weaning. A bit of smoked mackerel won’t hurt although there are varying opinions out there on the web, much like there are about anything really. I’m satisfied that the NHS are a sufficient authority on such matters. I’m considering printing this page out and sticking it to my fridge! Also, why on earth would anyone think it a good idea to feed their weaning baby raw jelly cubes?! It must be quite common else they wouldn’t feel the need to mention it…

Little M doesn’t seem to eat a great deal when we do feed her solids and she also doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to drink any less milk – I’m still expressing (seven months, go me!) so this has come as something of a disappointment… I’ve tried giving her milk before eating (that usually ends in disaster though as if she gags on something the whole lot comes up; joy!) or withholding milk until after a meal but that doesn’t seem to encourage her to eat any more.

weaning, baby weaning,

The whole not coping with lumps in food is worrying me, too. She’ll chow down quite happily on a piece of toast but a lump of mashed parsnip causes a vomiting incident… I mean yes, half of the toast ends up on the floor but I know she’s chewing and swallowing at least some of it.

I’m thinking about giving my health visitor a call next week as I think I need some reassurance that I’m doing the right thing, and some guidance on portion sizes. I’ve got no clue as to how much Little M should be eating at seven months.

There are some positives, though. Little M is enjoying a piece of toast and will independently pick up a piece, chew and swallow. She loves a bit of fruit. She’s also getting quite proficient at using her Nuby 360 sippy cup, although she sometimes needs a bit of help to tip it up far enough to get some water.

Are there any books or apps I could look at to give me an idea of whether I’m on the right track? Any suggestions much appreciated!

weaning, unsure about weaning, weaning at seven months